Sarah Ray
Posted: November 14, 2001

VT - In an effort to improve the likelihood of
survival for an on-campus victim of sudden cardiac arrest,
Middlebury College has purchased two automatic external
defibrillators (AEDs). The AEDs will be used by trained
members of the College’s department of public safety to
resuscitate a victim prior to the arrival of the town of
Middlebury’s volunteer ambulance squad.

American Heart Association guidelines, Middlebury College
established a Public Access Defibrillation Program. The
program includes physician oversight, regular training of
lay rescuers, and maintenance of the AEDs. It was designed
to encourage collaboration between the College and local
emergency medical services in response to a cardiac arrest.
Peter Newton, operations manager of the Middlebury Volunteer
Ambulance Association said, “The College’s program is a
great addition that could increase survival by decreasing
response time for defibrillation.” He noted that similar
programs are now being established across the country as
technology improves and is now available to trained lay

According to
Dr. Mark Peluso, Middlebury College physician, sudden
cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death among
adults in North America. Each year, it claims the lives of
an estimated 225,000 in the United States alone which means
that once every one or two minutes, another American
succumbs suddenly and without warning.

pointed out that, though the average victim is about 65
years old, some victims are in their 30s or 40s. For many,
there is no previous history of heart problems. Sudden
cardiac arrest is often the first symptom.

When sudden
cardiac arrest occurs, most victims have an abnormal heart
rhythm called ventricular fibrillation that results in a
lack of circulation to the heart and the brain. If the heart
is shocked quickly with a defibrillator, a normal heart
rhythm may be restored in a process called

“The shorter the time between a person’s collapse and the
time that defibrillation takes place, the better the chances
of that victim’s survival,” said Peluso.

Lisa Boudah,
director of Middlebury College public safety, emphasized,
“The new defibrillators are just one link in the chain of
survival. Since time is critical, the key step is early
notification. We urge our community to call 911 immediately
in an emergency.”